When it comes to cooking meat of almost any kind, the internal temperature is very important. Not only will it guarantee that your meat will be cooked just the way you prefer, well done, medium or rare, but it will ensure that your meat is cooked enough to kill the bacteria that may be growing in and on it. It is not a very appealing thought to be sure, but meat safety has become a real issue as more and more people are sickened from e-coli and other bacteria. This is where your trusty meat thermometer comes in.
Different meats have different requirements
Different types and cuts of meat have different cooking requirements. While one temperature may be perfect for beef it may not be okay for chicken. One of the things that every cook needs to know or at least have access to is a list of the correct internal temperatures for the types and cuts of meat that they are cooking.
Most good general cookbooks such a Good Housekeeping or Betty Crocker will have a chart to assist you. You can also use your smart phone or computer to help you. The website Foodsafety.gov is a good place for general information on meat food safety. For more specific temperatures for types of meat that can be served at different temperatures and still be safe, try this website.
Poultry is one of the most worrisome types of meat when it comes to safety. It is important that it be cooked enough to be safe but if it is overcooked, it can become dry and tasteless. Using a meat thermometer can help you to find the perfect time to take the poultry out of the over. Cutting into the meat to check the redness allows juices to escape and is not good when you want juicy meat. With a whole bird, the thermometer should be inserted into the thigh near the breast but not touching any bone. You want it to be one of the thickest places.
Steaks and roasts
With steaks and roasts, always place the thermometer away from the bone, but not in fat or gristle. It should be as close to the center as possible and in the middle of the thickest part.
Types of thermometers
There are several different types of meat thermometers. The traditional type goes in when the meat does and you need to check it every so often to see where the temperature is. Some have large dials can be viewed without opening the oven door if place correctly. Digital instant read thermometers allow you to just stick the probe into the meat and get an instant reading. Keep in mind that the meat will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven, so a couple of degrees shy of perfect is really perfect.
When purchasing your thermometer, read the packaging carefully to be sure that it is designed for meat — not all thermometers are.
A meat thermometer will help you be a better cook. It will let you keep your family safe, but still serve juicy meat cooked just the way you like it.